The Australian sharemarket has ended the day lower, investors remain cautious ahead of the EU leaders summit and locally, disappointing jobs data pushed the market into the red.
The S&P/ASX 200 Index ended 12 points lower at 4,281. On the futures market, the SPI is currently down 26 points.
The unemployment rate increased to 5.3 per cent in November, up from 5.2 per cent the month before. The total number of jobs fell by 6,300 for the month. Economists had expected 10,000 jobs to be added.
Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ASX:ANZ) is the first of the big four banks to cut its standard variable mortgage rate by 25 basis points, passing on the Reserve Bank’s cut in full. On Tuesday the RBA lowered the cash rate to 4.25 per cent, the second cut in a row. But the big four hesitated at passing on the cut. The National Australia Bank Limited (ASX:NAB) is the second of the big four banks to cut its lending rate by 25 basis points. ANZ shares closed 0.52 per cent lower today at $21.13.
Iluka Resources Limited (ASX:ANZ) shares have jumped after the mineral sands miner secured higher prices for the supply of rutile and synthetic rutile to be delivered in the first half of next year. Iluka expects an increase in price of up to 90 per cent in the new year. The miner says it has reached agreements with customers in the pigment market, titanium sponge and welding markets. Iluka shares closed 5.64 per cent stronger today at $16.68.
Woodside Petroleum Limited (ASX:WPL) says the North West Shelf project participants have approved the $2.5 billion development of the first phase of the Greater Western Flank project off the north-west coast of Australia.
BHP Billiton Limited (ASX:BHP) says its aluminium and nickel operations will be run as “lean and mean as possible”.
The ACCC will allow six coal miners to collectively bargain with QR National (ASX:QRN) for access to its rail network.
And Insurance Australia Group Limited (ASX:IAG) shares have shot up on takeover talk, with speculation Wesfarmers Limited (ASX:WES) may make a bid.
Best and worst performers
Telco services was the best performer, up 7 points to 1,117. The worst performing sector was Energy, falling 213 points, closing at 13,675.
The best performing stock in the S&P/ASX200 was Intrepid Mines, it rose 8.59 per cent to close at $1.39. Shares in Beadell Resources and Iluka Resources also finished stronger today.
The worst performing stock was Southern Cross Media Group, it dropped 5.16 per cent to $1.195, followed by Medusa Mining and Linc Energy.
The price of gold is $US1,735 an ounce and Light crude is up 13 cents at $US100.62 a barrel.